Why Paul prayed for open doors whilst in prison but not for freedom

And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.

Colossians 4:3

It’s hard to believe that someone imprisoned for speaking about Jesus would ask others to pray that for more opportunities to proclaim Jesus instead of praying for his freedom. However that is exactly what Paul did, he asked the churches to pray for open doors to share Jesus.

In many ways it feels as though we have been in chains this year during lockdown and may continue to be severely restricted over the next few months. Many of us are grieving the loss of face to face time with friends and family, of being able to sing God’s praise in the church building or take communion together as a church family. Our grief and sadness are understandable and right, we were created to be in relationship and to praise God in all that we do. So the pain of not being able to live as we once did can be hard to bear.

The danger at a time like this is that during our isolation we can become inward looking and even self reliant rather than totally reliant on Jesus. Paul could have easily given up on life, after all he had been called to share Jesus with the world and now he was in prison. Yet Paul knew that God is sovereign, God is still in charge despite lockdowns or pandemics and so Paul never gave up hope. We need to remind ourselves of the same thing that God is in charge and that he wants us to grow in our love for him, for others and to make disciples, even during restrictions. God wants us to enjoy him and to encourage others to do the same just as much now as any time in history.

So what are we going to pray for? For the virus to be be gone or a vaccine, of course we should pray for those things. However an even better prayer is to ask God for open doors now. Open doors when other doors are closed, so that if we have to close the church building again or observe more restrictions that God will provide new openings, new opportunities. Many churches how found that in answer to this kind of prayer people in their communities and beyond have come to hear about Jesus many of whom would never ‘go to church’ physically. So let’s encourage one another to pray like Paul! 

Heavenly Father,
we thank you that you are sovereign.
We pray that you would open doors 
for the message of Jesus which
were previously closed.
Help us to proclaim you in new ways,
give us confidence to talk about you
and Lord open people’s eyes and hearts,
that on hearing about Jesus
they would repent and believe.
Help us to love our friends, family
and neighbours by praying for them
and empower us by your Spirit,
for Jesus’ sake.
Amen.

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